Research Topics Forest Management
The Blacks Mountain experiment is a large-scale project designed to evaluate the effects of stand structure, grazing and prescribed fire on various components of the forest environment. Researchers are studying vegetation response as well as the response of passerine birds, small mammals, bark beetles to the treatments.
On September 26, 2002 the Cone fire ignited on the Hat Creek Ranger District of the Lassen National Forest, near the northeast corner of Black’s Mtn. Experimental Forest (BMEF). The fire burned portions of three of the twelve treatment units at BMEF with variable intensities and completely burned the forestland located in between the treatment units. It became apparent after the fire that the long-term study treatments that came into contact with the fire, acted as fuel breaks of varying degrees. From this incident, many lessons and research opportunities were created. Click the link to learn more.
With increasing interest in fuels treatments to address the high risk of severe fires in the western United States, there is a pressing need to quantify the effectiveness of such treatments. In addition to the immediate effect of reducing levels of combustible material and the attendant impact on fire intensity, resource managers also need to quantify or forecast the longevity of such treatments. Treatments that produce significant, but short-lived reductions in risk of severe wildfire maynot be meeting the goals and objectives of managers. This project was designed to study the longevity of thinning by looking at the temporal impacts on biomass equations.
Ponderosa pine is the most widely planted forest tree throughout California and southwest Oregon and is the usual reforestation species of choice following wildfire. The geographic abundance of ponderosa pine and and its capacity to respond quickly to treatment underscores an immense potential for meeting societal needs for fiber. This potential could reduce harvest pressures on natural forests. But managing plantations for sustainably higher yields requires a basic understanding of how it responds to release from competition, improved fertility, and freedom from insect pests. The Garden of Eden experiment was established in 1986 to help us understand the response potential of planted ponderosa pine when competition, fertility, and insect pests are controlled from establishment through crown closure.
In the Goosenest Adaptive Management Area on the Klamath National Forest, the combined effects of fire suppression and differential cutting of pine have, over time, resulted in dense stands with a high proportion of white fir. The buildup of fuels including dense white fir understories has caused fire hazard to become so extreme that protection of remaining forest stands with late-successional attributes is virtually impossible. While many wildlife species have taken up residence in white fir infested pine forests, much of the habitat potential has been altered. Silvicultural treatments have the potential to accelerate development of late-successional attributes but the ecosystem responses to these treatments are untested.
The Long-Term Soil Productivity network of experiments began in 1989 as a "grass roots" proposal that grew to a national program of the USDA Forest Service. LTSP was founded to examine the long-term consequences of soil disturbance on fundamental forest productivity. The concept caught the imagination of others. Soon, partnerships and affiliations were forged among public and private sectors in the United States and Canada. Today, more than 100 LTSP and affiliated sites comprise the world's largest coordinated research network addressing basic and applied science issues of forest management and sustained productivity. Studies range from elucidating mechanisms controlling carbon capture above and below ground, to developing indices of soil quality practicable in monitoring.
CONIFERS is a young stand simulator for southern Oregon and northwestern California.
SYSTUM-1 is a prototype simulator designed to simulate growth of young plantations in northern California and southern Oregon (Ritchie and Powers 1993).
[Fire science topic area]
Mastication is an increasingly popular fuel modification technique involving the use of heavy machinery to shred standing live and dead shrubs and tree saplings into small chunks which are then dispersed on the forest floor as surface fuel. Research is being conducted to evaluate fire behavior when masticated fuels burn, develop custom fuel models for predicting fire behavior and effects, measure soil heating with burning at different soil moisture levels, and understand the vegetation response to mastication over time.